The second room. Seaside paintings. Sorolla was born in Valencia. You can almost hear and smell the sea in his paintings, and this is exactly how Mediterranean sunlight bounces and sings and dazzles. Most of these pictures were painted a century ago, but they're so alive and immediate. The clothes may have changed, but mothers still swing children up onto one hip, swathed in a towel, and sunset always glitters across a summer beach, turning the wet sand tawny, picking out iridescent threads of algae, and casting the sea in umpteen shades of jade. The sunlight fairly squeaks off those white blouses and skirts. I'm glad I didn't have to keep up with the laundry in those days!
Clotilde, and eldest daughter María. María and Joaquín, the middle child, went on to become painters, and Elena became a sculptor. There are a lot of Sorolla pere's sculptures and ceramics in the house, but I have been too absorbed by the paintings to pay them much attention. No matter, I'll be going again.
Almost Beryl Cook. Almost Giles!
In the stairwell. 'Mis chicos'. (My Little Ones) This is the closest he gets to sentimental. It's a lovely painting, and there's no mistaking the relationship between the two older children and their little sister, and between little sister and her father. It's difficult not to smile back at the Elena of a hundred years ago. At a time when photographs were - of necessity - posed, and solemn, how wonderful to have a painter in the family.
María, Joaquín and Elena again. The woman's face is merely an impression - a nanny, perhaps? What is Elena doing?!
And a room full of ceramics.
And an Andalucian garden which has been beautifully restored as a shady place to while away a hot afternoon or quiet evening, lulled by the trickle of water. While I was inside this afternoon, Habibi sat out and enjoyed the garden.
I have pics, but it's late, and I've got a train to catch in the morning. More when I get back.